South Shore Health's Breast Milk Depot Helps NICU Preemies
Nearly 12 percent of babies born in the US are born prematurely. In addition to advanced medical interventions and medicines, these tiny babies benefit from the protective properties of breast milk to stave off certain types of infections. However, sometimes moms can’t provide their babies with enough breast milk, which is why breast milk donations are so important.
South Shore Health has partnered with Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast to open a human milk depot— a community location where screened donors who have more breast milk than their own babies need can drop off donations for shipment to a milk bank—providing a precious resource for families so premature infants can grow and thrive.
“The decision to become a donation site was an easy one,” said John Fiascone, MD, Medical Director of South Shore Health's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Breast milk, while important for all babies, is particularly important for those babies who are born prematurely. Some of the benefits include protection against infection, better developmental outcomes, and reduced stress.
The milk bank screens, pasteurizes, and tests the donated breast milk, and then dispenses it primarily to premature and sick babies whose mothers do not have enough breast milk. South Shore moms can bring their milk donations to South Shore Hospital for shipment to Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast (MMBNE) starting in November.
“The presence of this new milk depot at South Shore Hospital will increase awareness of the importance of breastfeeding and donating milk. Donor mothers find the experience of donating very special, and we hope that the depot at the hospital will provide an opportunity for mothers to network with one another about this unique, lifesaving gift,” said Naomi Bar-Yam, Ph.D., Executive Director of Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast.
Milk donor screenings are modeled after blood donor screenings. Donors will have to divulge their health history, get approval from a physician and will have to take a blood test. These measures are taken to ensure the safety of milk for the fragile premature and sick babies. Milk from mothers who pass the screening is also pasteurized and tested by an independent lab to ensure safety before being dispensed to hospitals or families.
Visit the Mother’s Milk Bank Northeast website to learn more about donating breast milk at South Shore Hospital, or call a Donor Intake Coordinator for screening at (617) 527-6263 x3 or email donate [at] milkbankne.org
The Donor Intake Coordinator will provide further details on how to bring the milk to South Shore Hospital.